Friday, June 10, 2016

Pediatric Sleep and Travel

Traveling with young children can be a challenge, to say the least. I like to say that traveling with children is not a vacation, but a relocation. Those of you that have traveled with babies or toddlers probably know what I'm talking about. It is important to note that the better your child sleeps at home, the better he/she will likely sleep when you are away.  However, traveling can throw anyone off schedule, so trying to help your little one get the best daytime and nighttime sleep possible while away from home is key, since a well-rested child = a happier child.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when traveling with your young family:

- Make sure you pack bottles or sippy cups, extra diapers, plenty of wipes, low-mess snacks (for both parents & children), new toys for the car or plane ride, and a change of clothes for your little one (and a clean shirt for you).  
- Invest in a good travel crib (or borrow one) and bring along properly fitting crib sheets. If your child is older and sleeps in a bed, bring along his/her favorite small blanket and lovey.
- When you arrive at your destination, spend time with your little one in the room where he/she will be sleeping to help him/her become more acclimated and comfortable.
- Try to follow the same naptime and bedtime routine that you do at home. Bring along a nightlight, his/her favorite books, favorite pjs, and quiet toys, especially those that he/she associates with napping and bedtime.
- Bring a source of soothing background noise for where your baby will be sleeping: a sleep sounds app for your mobile device or a sound machine.
- Plan your daily activities around your baby/toddler's nap schedule. If possible, let him/her sleep at least once per day in the travel crib or bed where he/she will be sleeping at night.
- If you are traveling across time zones it is best to switch your child to his/her usual wake/sleep times according to the new clock.  Exposure to sunlight (particularly in the morning) can help the body adjust.
- Enjoy your visit/vacation. Even if it means your child gets off schedule somewhat (you can work on getting back on track when you get home), making memories with your little one is priceless.

Tracie Kesatie, M.A. is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach and an experienced mother of two.  In addition to working with private clients, Tracie also runs a pediatric sleep support group for parents and caregivers once a month at A Mother’s Haven in Encino.  If your family needs individualized pediatric sleep support, please do not hesitate to contact Tracie at Rest Well Baby (www.restwellbaby.com) to learn more about her gentle sleep solutions.